June 1960

CONFLICTING INTERESTS - EMPLOYMENT - LAW PARTNER OF CITY COMMISSIONER - One member of a law firm may not serve as chairman of the City Commission while his law partner accepts employment to represent clients with interests before the Commission.

Canon 6.


Where a law firm, consisting of two men and existing over a long period of time as a law partnership in which both partners are actively engaged and from all practical viewpoints divide their fees and costs as to the partnership, and engaging in a general practice of law, wherein both of the attorneys try cases together, is it ethical or proper for one of same attorneys to serve as chairman of the City Commission while the other said attorney accepts employment to represent applicants and/or other persons or companies with interests before the Commission, such as applicants for franchises or utility companies seeking raises?


It is not ethical or proper, and would violate Canon 6.

A lawyer generally is not permitted to represent conflicting interests (except in some instances with the consent of all parties.)  The lawyer member of the Commission is representing the city in a fiduciary, representative capacity.  For him to represent an individual or company before the Commission while he is a member of the Commission would violate Canon 6. Compare prior Opinions 1 and 82.

Generally, when a lawyer is prohibited from handling a legal matter, all partners of that lawyer are likewise barred.  Compare Opinions 23, 37, 82, 104, 108, 113 and 132Opinion 65 is very much in point, and is in accord with these views. (8-0).